On Doing Better

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

So - two entries in one week is pretty good for me! I was hoping to follow the first one with this entry a bit sooner, but it is what it is! SO let's dive in, shall we?

On Doing Better, specifically post WWC 2022, as well as going forward. One of the sessions I presented was on Being Organized, and another was on Time Management. And riding the high that came with the end of WWC, I realized I needed to Do Better at both those things. Actually - I have known that for a long time, but that wondrous high feeling is a much more positive way of feeling than the doldrums I've been stuck in for several months!

Let's look at where I need to Do Better. I talked about the following things as areas that a Writer needs to be organized about: Setting a Writing Schedule, Prioritizing and Tracking. I already have a couple of great spots where I do my writing, and it's not usually Writer's Block that holds things up for me. I figure I need to focus on Scheduling and Prioritizing, specifically.

So. Scheduling. I have come up with lots of schedules over the years, but I can talk about blocking off some time each day until I'm blue in the face, but for me it all comes to one thing initially. Discipline. I just need to sit my butt in the chair, and get on with it. Which is Perseverance. But I have to get past the Discipline part first. One tip that was mentioned in my session was to start small - baby steps. Try to manage just 30 minutes in a day. So I'm going to start there - 30 minutes in the mornings before I go to work at noon. If I can manage more, that's awesome! But all that I'll require of myself is those 30 minutes. Starting tomorrow - unless I can count writing this entry as my 30 minutes? No? Oh well :(

To jump right into that 30 minutes/day, I will need a project to work on. Which is where the Prioritizing component comes in. I have LOTS of WIP at the moment. I always do. So I need to figure out which one I'm going to focus on. Now, my session didn't go into details on HOW to Prioritize your WIPs, but I'll try to break it down here. For my benefit as much as anything else! First step - list it all. Then decide which one to go with, based on logic, practicality and How Much I Want To.

There's Best Laid Plots - Book the 2nd - the follow-up to Book the 1st which has gone through editing, and now is waiting to get looked at by Beta Readers. I do need to push to get that part happening, but that's a task that'll happen outside of my 30 minutes. This series is not quite like my usual writing, in that it's a borderline parody. Definitely trying to be humorous.

A Winter's Tale (I know - it needs a new title) - I had thought this one was "finished" as well, but I've always been unhappy with the ending. It's a fairly simple tale of a female fighter, who needs to get her friend and her family to safety when trolls are threatening the local area. During the winter. She gets them to a safe refuge, but then embarks on another search and rescue mission, and then another. Yes, she's a bit of a Mary Sue, but at this point in her adventures has been doing this kind of thing a very long time, and damn it, she SHOULD be good at it! She has a few flaws - of course - but they're more for flavour than anything else. The ending is quite weak, I think, with everything "neatly" wrapped up, and the character heading off to her next unspecified adventure. Which feels - unsatisfying to me. I've recently come up with a way to perhaps fix that ... adding a bit where she meets with one or two of the supporting characters (who are at odds with each other), to discuss the unresolved issues from the story, namely the trolls themselves. Questions that needed to be addressed really weren't, and this addition could do that. While paving the way to a sequel, featuring those two at odds characters, as they followed up and dug deeper into the issue.

The Journey Begins - this one is about half to two thirds done already, and features the MC from A Winter's Tale, but at the beginning of her adventures. She's still pretty accomplished in many ways, but still has alot to learn about stuff not directly related to what she's learned growing up. It also makes sense that perhaps this should be the first in her adventures that I should focus on towards publishing, rather than later as a prequel. Readers can be quite fussy about stuff like that. This prequel of hers should spread over three books, although book two and three are only very loosely thought out at this stage.

UnderCity Blues - this is the first in a police-type procedural set in a society set apart from the High Elvish society it serves. This one is a bit more planned, although not thoroughly plotted or outlined yet. And it's not really started yet, still mostly notes. My feel on this one is that it isn't quite done simmering on the stove yet. But it's a cool idea, and there's been lots of noodling on various aspects of this one in my downtime.

Sigh. There are at least three more I could list here, but I don't think that's going to be helpful. I think the logical choice is The Journey Begins. First draft is quite far along, and I've got good plans for the sequels. The Tracking part I've already got in place, more or less. I just need to start producing stuff to be Tracked!

So now I need to just get started on the new plan. Starting tomorrow, becuase as I finish this I realize I'm going to be late for work! Good thing I'm the boss!

Till Later!


The Day After Awesome ...

Monday, August 15, 2022

Oh Wow!!! First off - I can't believe how LONG it's been since I last did one of these little blog entries. I mean, I know I've been in a bit of a literary funk ... but six months??? Yikes! I promise, I'll do better!

Which brings me to my next point, Doing Better, Writing wise! And the Why, of course, is that When Words Collide 2022 just concluded yesterday - and all I can say is - WOW! I want to chat about that first, then I'll get to the Doing Better part!

For the third year the conference was virtual, which meant many things. Mostly, that it didn't include the long drive to and from Calgary. And a rather expensive hotel bill. It also included a few new things - first off, the organizers allowed professional and past partners to set up and be responsible for their own tracks of programming. Mostly publishers, big and small. And as such, they considered Prairie Owl Publishing - our own tiny little imprint - as a past partner! (So cool!!!)

Since the first virtual year, I have mantained a zoom licence, and kept it because it was handy for a few different things through out the year (mostly having to do with my volunteer Guiding life, but also as a way to connect with non-local family), so setting up the zoom links was old hat. Being told that we can fill a full track with however many sessions we wanted, well, let me say - Challenge Accepted!

The "Prairie Owl Publishing" track had scheduled - out of a possible 29 tracks - 13 sessions! Please keep in mind, that POP has a grand total of TWO individuals associated with it - myself and founder Amanda Witow. Of those 13 tracks we'd scheduled, we were directly involved with 12 sessions, one of which was a panel, which I moderated and Amanda was a panelist. When the idea of that panel (On Being an Indie Author) came to me, I reached out to S.C. Jensen - author of the Bubbles in Space series - and asked if she'd be interested in being on the panel, and maybe doing a session on her own. She was quite happy to say yes to both - and our 13th session was Sarah's How to Increase Your Speed and Productivity. To round out our panel, Amanda reached out to D.N. Brynn, the author of more than a few awesome novels (Odder Still and Once Stolen, just to name a couple!). And I must say, it was a lot of fun! So glad we did it!

There were, of course, some more negative challenges to overcome this year, most notably the presence of Zoom Bombers at most sessions :( What's a Zoom Bomber you ask? These were invidivuals just getting their kicks out of signing into a session with the sole purpose of being a nuisance, by interrupting with noise of all sorts. To be distracting. Like - really? Are you guys 12????? No - that's doing a disservice to 12 year olds!!! As a result, sessions right across the board instituted a few zoom rules to curb these guys - most notably Muting participants as they entered, and using Moderators who did some quiet gatekeeping of sessions, removing offenders.

My first session I had a volunteer from the group of legit participants step up to gatekeep - which was awesome! Thanks Val!!! After that, I tapped my hubby to be our Moderator, and he went a step further in that he removed the ability to Unmute themselves for all participants, as well as the ability to use the Whiteboard. One thing he didn't do was to remove the ability for participants to Rename themselves. But other sessions, who hadn't also instituted the universal Mute everybody and keep them that way rule, got hit by bombers who'd rename themselves to match another legitimate particant. That way, once they got noisy and rowdy and the moderator removed them from the session, the legit person got kicked out as well! We didn't have that issue as since they couldn't unmute themselves, there was no way they could be disruptive, so they just left on their own. Or stayed and enjoyed the session. Anything is possible, right?

Once the bombers were kept under control things got back on track and went quite well for us! Well ... that is, until covid reared its ugly head! Yes, even at a virtual conference covid was able to impact things when it got its hooks into poor Amanda :( I did what I could in taking on two of her remaining four sessions, but we did have to cancel the other two :( I won't go into all the unhappy emotions associated with being a mommy who can't really do anything to help her child ....... But I will say, that part really sucked :(

But other than that, the conference went really well! Which brings me to the Doing Better part!

Actually - no it doesn't! At least not right now. I think that will have to be rolled over into the next blog entry, where that will be the main focus!

And that's a Promise! So - stay tuned! Anyone want to run a side bet on how long it will take for me to write and post the next one???? Anyone? No????

Lol! Okay, my dear meeples ... my sweet cherubs .... my... friends. Yeah - that one works better!

Until later Friends! But not too much later .... maybe even tomorrow!